AE 351: Expressions With ‘BUST’

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of Aussie English where I teach you a bunch of expressions with the word BUST.

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AE 351: Expressions with BUST

Time to go live again, guys. Welcome to this expression episode, guys.

Today, I have a special kind of episode for you that I’m going to be doing a little bit differently from usual. I got a message from Rocio, who is a student in the Aussie English Classroom and she also signed up for the Effortless Phrasal Verb’s course. Thank you so much Rocio. She asked me, she said to me, “I was wondering if you could do a similar expression episode with the different meanings of the word “bust”, like in failure, arrest, bankruptcy, to break something, and also like “busted”.” And she gave me a bunch of other different expressions here.

So, Rocio’s just shown up. This one’s for you, Rocio. So, I thought I would look up all these different idioms that use the word “bust”. I had a look through them. There’s quite a few. A lot of them I don’t use. And so, I’ve used… I’ve listed the ones that I actually do use here to go through today for you guys. As usual, at the end of this episode we’ll go through a little listen and repeat exercise. We’ll practice our pronunciation. If you have a few questions, we can go through that at the end as well. But without any further ado, let’s just go through it, guys.

To bust something

So, the first one is “to bust something”. “To bust something”. If you bust something it means you break something. So, it’s to break something or it’s for something to fail, to stop working, to stop functioning, to stop running if it’s like machinery. That’s when it’s busted or you’ve busted something. OK? So, for example, “I fell over and busted my leg.” That is just that I fell over. I’ve hurt my leg, I’ve damaged my leg, I’ve broken my leg, potentially, and it’s busted. So, it’s not functioning as it usually functions. I’ve busted my leg. Ah! (I’ve) busted my leg. Your car could break down. So, you’re on the side of the road. Your car’s broken down. You’ve pulled over to the side of the road. There’s smoke coming out of the engine. It won’t start up again. So, you’ve opened up the front of the car to look under the hood, to look under the bonnet, and you can see, “Oh! Something’s gone wrong and my car is busted. The engine’s busted. It’s busted.” So, I don’t know what’s happened. Maybe I busted the car when I did something. I drove too fast or I drove over a rock, and it’s damaged the engine, but it’s busted. Last example here, could be that you’re trying to use some scissors. You’re trying to cut some paper. Cut some pieces of paper out of say a newspaper or something, and they get caught, and the blades open up and don’t work properly anymore. You could say, “I’ve busted my scissors”. The scissors are busted. They’re not functioning. They’re not working. They’re busted or I busted the scissors. I broke them. So, that’s “to bust something” or for “something to be busted.

To go bust

If something “goes bust” or someone “goes bust”, “to go bust” is to run out of money. So, this is the idea of bankruptcy or of failure in terms of a company no longer functioning, no longer working, because it’s run out of money. It’s its primary resource. So, if a company goes bankrupt or fails, the company goes bust. So, if a new company opened up on the street a few years ago, maybe 10 years ago or so before the financial crisis, and they were having a little trouble. And then during the financial crisis, they lost all their money. They went bust. The company went bust during the financial crisis of 2008. Another example could be that a person goes bust. So, we went bust when our company went bust during the financial crisis of 2008. So, “to go bust” is to run out of money or to go bankrupt. “To go bust”.

To bust someone/something

“To bust someone” or “to bust something”, but usually someone, a person, “To bust someone”, can be to catch someone or to arrest someone, to apprehend someone. So, this, for example, is where the cops might bust someone for dealing drugs. So, if someone’s on the street corner and they’re selling drugs, you know. Maybe they’re selling meth or cocaine, heroin. They could be selling cannabis, marijuana. If they get busted by the cops, busted by the cops, they’ve been caught by the cops. The cops have seen what they were doing and busted them. They may have been arrested as well. They may have been apprehended. They may have been put away in jail. But they’ve been busted by the cops. Another example could be that I was driving this car and I pulled it over to the side of the road because I busted the car, the engine went bust, or it got busted, and the police have pulled over behind me to try and see what was going on. Am I alright? And they’ve run my registration, they’ve run my rego, through their computer and they’ve seen that the registration or the rego was out of date. So, I hadn’t paid my rego, which is a crime, ’cause I’m driving my unregistered vehicle on the road. So, you could say, “They’ve busted me for not having an up to date rego. I’ve been busted by the cops. They caught me. The cops caught me.”. The last one could be that someone’s wagging school. So, there’s a school student. They should have been at school, but they wagged, which means they’ve skipped class. They haven’t gone to school. They’ve wagged school. They’ve gone to the shops, to the mall, and they’ve shoplifted a shop. So, they’ve stolen something. If you shoplift, you lift something up in the shop, put it in your bag, put it in your clothes, and you run off. Shoplifting is to steal. So, the cops have come and they busted some kids for shoplifting who were wagging school. OK? So, “busted”, to catch or to arrest.

So, we can often use this “to be busted”, more sort of colloquially, to mean caught doing something, but by like a teacher or your parents or someone who’s caught you doing something you shouldn’t have done. So, it’s not a crime, but you’ve been caught doing something wrong, doing something that you shouldn’t have been doing, and someone might say to you, “Ah. You got busted” or “You are busted” or they may even just say “Busted!”. So, “Ah! Busted!”. So, for example, “The teacher busted us wagging school”. “The teacher caught us wagging school”. “My girlfriend and I were busted making out behind the classroom”. So, “My girlfriend and I were kissing behind a classroom and we got busted”. “We were busted kissing by the teacher” or by a friend who yelled out, “Ehhh! Busted! Busted!”. So, that’s to be caught. You were busted. You were caught doing something.

Two more expressions here before we go into the listen and repeat exercises, guys.

To bust someone’s balls/ass/chops

The first one is “to bust someone’s balls”, “to bust someone’s ass”. “Arse”/”ass” depending on how you want to pronounce that. And “to bust someone’s chops”. So, OK, “Balls” is a derogatory term or a slang term for “testicles” for a man. If you bust someone’s balls, you can imagine putting pressure on someone’s nuts, it’s that you are trying to force them to do something or… not force them to do something, but you’re trying to exert a significant amount of energy to do something yourself. So, you’re working really hard. You’re busting your balls. Or someone is harassing you or nagging you or trying to get you to do something and they’re busting your balls. So, could be, “I’m busting my balls at work to work really hard. I’m trying to get everything done. I’m really busting my balls.”. So, I’m working hard. I’m exerting a lot of energy to do something or accomplish something. If I have a really nasty boss who then comes over and says, “Why haven’t you done this? You’re not doing this! You need to work harder! You need to do that!” I could say that, they’re busting my balls as well. “My boss is always busting my balls to work harder even though I’m busting my balls all the time to work hard”. OK. So, “to bust my balls” is to, I guess… imagine applying pressure to my testicles. Although, I don’t really think about that, right? Here’s the cognitive linguistic side of things. When people say this expression, it’s not what I directly start thinking about in my hand. I just think, “OK. He’s applying pressure to me” or “I’m working hard”.

“To bust someone’s arse”. Obviously “arse” or “ass” is your bottom. So, it’s the same kind of thing. You can imagine being whipped on the bottom. You know, (you’re) told to do something and being whipped. They’re busting my ass. They’re busting my arse. I’m busting my ass. I’m busting my arse at work to try and work hard.

And the last one is “to bust my chops”. And “chops” just your mouth. That’s why we call these muttonchops, I guess, which is like if I shave my beard here and I left the hair here, these are muttonchops. Muttonchops. And “a chop” is a part of lamb or sheep, usually, I think. You can probably have steak chops or beef chops, but usually we who would have lamb chops. And I think it tends to be the rib with meat on it, but it looks like this kind of shape. Thin and then getting thicker. And so, we refer to our chops here. And if you’re “busting my chops”, I guess it’d be like, you know, potentially hitting me in the face.

Anyway. “To bust one’s balls”,” to bust one’s arse”, and “to bust one’s chops”, is to either be working really hard yourself if you’re busting your arse or busting your balls. Or someone’s doing it to you, it’s for them to really be harassing you and nagging you to work hard. It is slightly vulgar. It’s not that bad, but I would use this in informal situations and not formal situations.

OK. The very last one again this is sort of vulgar slang. It’s not that bad to be honest. I would use this around friends, family, people I knew close, knew really well, but I wouldn’t use it in formal situations.

To be busting

And this is “to be busting”. So, “to be busting” is the idea of nearly bursting, nearly breaking. So, it’s nearly exploding. And if you’re busting, it means that you really want to do something, “I’m busting to go to the beach”. “I’m busting to go to university next year”. “I’m busting to do it”. But most of the time, if someone says they’re busting, and it just stops there, “I’m busting” it means they have to go to the toilet. “I really have to go to the toilet. I’m busting.”. It’s almost like I’m about to burst. I’m about to explode. I am busting. I’m in the process of breaking. I’m busting. I need to go to the toilet. So, that is where you can hear this most of the time. It may be more of an Australian thing to say “I’m busting”. “I really have to go. I’m busting. I’m busting.”. But yeah, I would use that in informal situations with friends with family. It just means that you have to urinate. You have to pee. You have to piss. You have to go to the toilet. And it tends to be just needing to pee. So, number one’s and not number two’s in the toilet. “I’m busting. I need to pee. I need to pee.”. OK. So, the little kid was holding his crutch, so his groin, down here, saying, “I’m busting! I’m busting to go to the dunny. I have to pee. I really have to go to the dunny.

Alright. So, those are the different expressions, guys. They’re the different ways that I would most commonly used the word “bust” and the different expressions in which I would use the word “bust”. There were other ones that I saw, but I’d never used them and I’d never heard them. I might understand the context if they were used, but because I don’t know them and I don’t use them I didn’t want to include them in this episode. So, if you see them, let me know. If you’ve heard them before, let me know. I always love hearing about that sort of stuff.

But let’s go into a listen and repeat exercise quickly, guys. For the sake of this episode, or for the sake of this exercise* rather, I want you to imagine that you are a cop, you’re a copper, you’re a policeman or a policewoman, police person, you’re a policeman who’s busted a young girl, you’ve busted some sheila, which is a slang term for “a girl” in Australia, “a sheila”, you’ve busted her for shoplifting at a local store. So, you’re a cop. You have driven your divvy van up to this store. So, the car that you drive is a policeman. And you’ve busted some young sheila for shoplifting at a local store, and you end up chucking her, you end up putting her, in the back of your divvy van or your police car to take to the cop shop, to the police station. OK? So, there’s a lot of slang in there for you. So, that’s what I want you to imagine. You’re a cop. You just busted a chick, some girl, some sheila for shoplifting. You chucked her in your cop car, in your divvy van, and you’ve taken it back to the cop shop. So, we’re going to use the expression “to bust someone”.

For example, “I busted her for shoplifting.”.

So, listen repeat after me, guys. Find somewhere quiet where you can practice your pronunciation, you can say this stuff aloud. I’m going to say it, and then I want you to repeat it and try and say it exactly as I say it, because I will do so with very Australian accent. OK? So, it’s going to be in the Simple Past. “I busted her for shoplifting”. And I’m going to conjugate through the different pronouns. Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

I busted her for shoplifting.
You busted her for shoplifting.
He busted her for shoplifting.
She busted her for shoplifting.
We busted her for shoplifting.
They busted her for shoplifting.
The cops busted her for shoplifting.

Good job, guys. Good job. So, I want to talk a little bit, quickly, about the pronunciation and connected speech in those sentences. Two things you’re going to notice when you go back and listen are the H-deletion, where the H at the start of the word “her” disappears, and I pronounce it more as “-er”. I don’t say “H-“, “Her” I say “-er”. And it goes onto the end of the word “busted”. So, I say, “I busted -er. I busted -er.” There’s no H in there. “I busted -er”. That happens all the time. So, for example, “I looked at -er”. “I looked at -er”. So, the H has disappeared. “You waved at -er”. “You waved at -er”. The H has disappeared. “What’s -er name?”. “What’s -er name?”. “What’s -er name?”. The H, again, has disappeared. So, that happens quite a lot in Australian English, in English everywhere. If words start with an H, and they’re within a sentence, they’re not at the start of a sentence where you would have to start with “H”, and there’s a consonant sound before the H, quite often it will just go over the top of the H. So, “I looked at -er”. “I waved at -er”. “What’s the -er name, again?”. The H disappears. So, that’s a really cool pronunciation thing that if you want to sound more like a native, focus on deleting the H on words, especially pronouns like him and her. They always seem to disappear in the middle of sentences.

The last little point that I wanted to go over is the word “for”. “For”. When this is with even a sentence and it is not at the end of a sentence you won’t really emphasise its pronunciation. It kind of get squished a little bit. So, instead of saying “for”, I’ll say “feh”, “feh”. So, it’s almost a schwa sound. We turn that “-or” sound into an “eh”. “Feh”. So for instance, I said, “The cops busted -er feh shoplifting”. So it’s almost a “feh”, “feh shoplifting”, “for shoplifting”. “The cops busted -er feh shoplifting.”. “Feh”.

So, that’s a very good pronunciation and connected speech thing to focus on as well. Those sorts of words aren’t the important parts of sentences, and so they often get contracted down so that I just hear that the necessary sound “Fffff”, and I know exactly what you’re using, what you’re saying, and the grammar. OK? So, for instance, “I spoke to her for an hour”. “For an hour”. “For an hour”, instead of “for an hour”, “for an hour”. “She asked him for help”. “She asked him for help”. “For help”. “For help”. “We waited for him”. “We waited for him”. And you’ll notice in each one of these sentences not only do I say “feh”, but I remove the H in the words “her” and “him” and “hour”

[I don’t know what I’m on about, we don’t pronounce the H in “hour” anyway].

“I spoke to her for an hour”. “She asked him for help.” “She asked him for help”, and “We waited for him”. “We waited for him”. I’m going to say properly the second time, “for him”. And I use the R there. “We waited for him.”

Right. Let’s just go through this one more time guys. Listen repeat after me and we’ll finish up. If you have any questions you can put them down in the comments section here. But listen and repeat after me, guys. I’ll say the sentence correctly, sort of well enunciated first, and then I’ll say it again quickly. Practice your pronunciation.

Listen & Repeat:

I busted her for shoplifting. I busted_-er feh shoplifting.
You busted her for shoplifting. You busted_-er feh shoplifting.
He busted her for shoplifting. He busted_-er feh shoplifting.
She busted her for shoplifting. She busted_-er feh shoplifting.
We busted her for shoplifting. We busted_-er feh shoplifting.
They busted her for shoplifting. They busted_-er feh shoplifting.
The cops busted her for shoplifting. The cops busted_-er feh shoplifting.

Good job, guys. Good job. Keep practicing these exercises. Listen, repeat, listen, repeat, listen, repeat. And eventually, the more you practice this stuff, the more you’re going to sound like a native speaker, naturally, effortlessly, when you speak English.

I guess before we finish up, just remember, if you want access to all the bonus content for this episode, sign up to the Aussie English Classroom via There’ll be a link in here, guys, for you. It’s a dollar for your first month. You’ll get four classes during that first month where you get exercises for pronunciation, phrasal verbs, you’ll get vocab, you’ll get listening comprehension questions, and some grammar exercises, as well as a transcript for everything. So, this’ll really help you level up your English. If you like studying on your own, in your own time, I really recommend signing up and giving it a go. It’s just one dollar for the first month.

Aside from that, also the Effortless Phrasal Verbs course has begun. There’s live lessons that you will have seen on Facebook every Monday and every Thursday. It’s slowly dripping out over time. I’ll be adding to this as we go. But, if you want to sign up for that, make sure you click the link that I’ll include in this video or in this podcast episode, and give it a go. It’s going to take your phrasal verb usage to the next level. The basic idea of this course is teaching you the concepts behind the particles that go with the verbs to create phrasal verbs. And it’s going to help you learn to use phrasal verbs effortlessly. That’s the whole point of this. So, I’d definitely recommend giving that a go and checking out the previous streamed videos whether on Facebook or on YouTube. Make sure you check them out and watch them. Absorb that material. But when you sign up you’ll get a bunch of extra stuff. You’ll get access to a video that’s inset into the slide show for every single episode that comes out for the Effortless Phrasal Verbs course so that you can see all the example sentences, all of the images and pictures that I’m talking about while I stream live. You’ll also get the MP3 and a PDF transcript of the entire episode for every single episode with all of the different phrasal verbs that I use highlighted. And then you have a glossary with the definitions and exercises at the bottom. So, this is really designed to teach you to use phrasal verbs naturally, effortlessly, without thinking, and just creating them spontaneously, when you speak English so make sure you check it out.

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